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Sam Houston Race Park Starts Ike Recovery -- And A Push For Casino Gambling

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It's taken a while, but this week Sam Houston Race Park will finally begin the major parts of its post-Ike reconstruction -- replacing the roof.

The facility has had to wait for supplies, and the availability of a company big enough to handle the job, Gina Rotolo, director of media relations, tells Hair Balls.

(Some horse people grumbled that SHRP used Ike as a convenient excuse to forego a troubled racing season.)

The 12-week project will include taking off sections of the roof by crane, she says. "When it's done it will look just like it does now," she says.

First event will be a Fall Out Boy concert April 18; live racing will return May 1.

And then.....casino gambling!!

At least that's what race officials hope. Meetings are beginning to be held statewide encouraging supporters to push for a bill to allow casino gambling in Galveston and at race tracks.

It may sound like a long shot in conservative Texas, but Rotolo says the industry is as optimistic as it has ever been. The new speaker of the House, Joe Strauss, comes from a horse-racing family, she says.

"We're excited. We're pretty positive it will go to a statewide vote in Texas soon," she says.

SHRP has 400 acres that could be developed into a large casino, she notes, but says more immediate ways to provide gaming (or, as it's known in mathematical circles, "take money from suckers") might be available.

"If they approved it tomorrow, we would have slots in tomorrow," she says.

-- Richard Connelly

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